Governors on Thursday came under pressure to halt suspension and dismissal of county government workers.
The national consultative forum of County Public Service Boards, in a letter to the Council of Governors, claimed they had received numerous reports of intimidation, harassment, suspensions and even dismissals of staff over all manner of accusations without being accorded a fair hearing.
“Our forum is particularly concerned this is being done in complete disregard of the relevant laws, policies and laid-down procedures,” read the letter dated August 22 by forum chair Philip Kungu.
“There are cases where even some of us (on the board) have been threatened with sacking even before the governors took oath of office,” added the letter which was copied to the chairpersons of the Public Service Commission as well as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
He said they had raised similar concerns in a petition to governors in May last year, but were yet to get a response.
“We even listed specific counties involved in our petition. But, to date, our petition remains unacknowledged,” said Mr Kungu.
He said their boards had been granted the mandate by the Constitution to advise county governments on, among other things, human resource management and development.
He warned that if the current trend continued, it was likely to expose counties to long and protracted litigation battles in courts with huge cost implications, coupled with the loss of productive time in service delivery.
“This must be avoided at all costs,” he said.
READ: Atwoli threatens to sue governors over sackings
He spoke as the national government added its voice on the issue with spokesman Eric Kiraithe describing the dismissal of staff for political reasons as a violation of the Constitution as well as the workers’ rights.
“The Employment Act expressly protects employees against dismissal on grounds of their political opinion and affiliation,” he said.
Mr Kiraithe called on the county bosses to stop politicking and begin working.
“County workers don’t owe any governor or political party a debt for loyalty. Therefore, their constitutional rights must be respected,” said Mr Kiraithe at a news conference on Thursday.
“County employees are accountable to established appraisal systems, negotiated performance contracts, fundamental human capital management standards and universally accepted practices,” he added.
Mr Kiraithe said the national government fully respects devolution and, therefore, had no intention of micromanaging counties.
Meanwhile, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago has asked members of his executive to re-apply for their jobs even as the employees expressed fears that the move was being used to victimise them.
Sources told the Nation there is a feeling that some senior employees who were deemed not active in campaigning for Mr Mandago’s re-election were likely to be shown the door.
The county boss was categorical when he addressed the press for the first time since he took office last week.
“I am aware that most of you (workers) were praying that I don’t come back. Now I am back and I will deal with you decisively if you don’t serve the people,” said Mr Mandago.
“I almost lost my job because some of you were not discharging your duties well. This will not be tolerated any more,” said the county chief.
In Bungoma, all the 10 county executives who served in the previous administration were ordered to vacate their offices to pave way for the new administration.
In Siaya, outgoing Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo threatened to take legal action against Governor Cornel Rasanga if he sacks any county government employee who did not support his re-election.
In Narok, anxiety has gripped county staff now awaiting their fate as Governor Samuel Tunai returns to the office for his second term after a hotly contested election.
Casualties could include those who openly campaigned for the governor’s opponents in the recent General Election.